Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Return of the Red Wing Blackbird

I went to the river with my children yesterday. We went to watch the high tide. “I think of tides as belonging to the ocean,” a friend commented. Ocean tides move in response to the moon. River tides move in response to precipitation.  Flood tides on a river happen with heavy rainfall and can be accentuated when warm rain melts any snow pack to add to the flow. This winter we have no snow pack so the river is running full on the rains of a warm storm.

Our favorite swimming holes from summer often have large jumping rocks. We climb the twenty feet to balance for a moment on the top before leaping into the cool pools resting at the base. In a flood tide the top of these rocks are barely visible and sometimes visible only as a bump of water which suggests something underneath. In these flood tides giant trees bob down the river as if they are toothpicks.

It is a great thrill to watch water move this way. Living in the wilderness these flood times are the ‘superbowls’. They are not scheduled. After decades of life lived largely without a human dominated landscape these special times can be felt. This comes as the “drop everything and go out and see it now” call of the wild.

The exhilaration, inspiration, vitality and raw power of these times feed my soul and well being. Returning home afterwards I stepped out of the car. The first sound that greeted me was the call of the Red Wing Black bird. The seasonal dwelling of these beings near my home is one of my great pleasures. Their call is not quite melodic, the way they chase of larger birds is astonishing. The flash of red as they fly across the pond stimulates my eye. And this was the first call of the new season. “We’re back!” My heart swells to be present to the first day they have returned, to that first call, to welcome guests back after a long absence. Combined with the flood tide….I am so very grateful!

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